The Effects of Music And Sound In David Fincher's The Social Network

00325 David Fincher, an amazingly intuitive director, hired Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to score the masterpiece that is The Social Network, and in doing so created a film that used music to compliment sound in a way that very few movies do nowadays. The union of music and sound in this movie is hauntingly dark and psychoanalytical, acting like the brainwaves channeling throughout the film, transporting us, the viewers, into the minds of secretly disturbed individuals stuck on a social trip through heaven and hell. The effects of sound and music is an aspect of film so integrated into our minds and our society that it is easy for us as a culture raised on movies to take them for granted. When The Social Network was first released one of the most notable elements of the film was its score, which revealed the rawness and the audacity of its approach to a story and a way of life that most of us are familiar with and possibly enjoy, illustrating that this was not going to be the typical biopic about rags to riches of one very ambitious young man, but rather an in depth analysis about what makes these types of people think, act, and do. Without the sound, or music, in this film it might have ended up in the critic€™s trash bin, along with ninety-nine percent of the films Hollywood produced that same year. To put it simply, sound is important. The film opens with the sound of social chatter in the real word€”and illusion to that being transferred to the €˜network€™. We are in the movie before it even fades in, and then after we are hit by the soundtrack. The three notes on the piano convey a sense of intense urgency; someone is going to do something that will change his/her life and everyone around them. The recurring music tones from the beginning of the picture seem to appear during moments in the story where Mark does or says something which stirs the emotions of everyone around him, either socially or physically, as evident in the flash-forward of the deposition scene. In it Mark€™s attention drifts toward the rainfall outside the window, and is asked by the Winklevoss twin€™s attorney if he had Mark€™s attention. Mark€™s answer is cold and nearly emotionless, which might come off as slightly humorous if it were not underscored by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross€™s breathtaking score€”a perfect example for the gratitude any film should have for their composer(s) and the score produced. The theme music arises again during the scene where Eduardo confronts Mark about his diluted shares of the company, highlighting the similar theme of betrayal that was established in the beginning of the film with €˜Face Smash€™. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rf3e5Panttg One of the many diverse ways of using music is to establish a certain pace in a sequence, creating a sort of €˜montage effect€™. This effect is used during the cuts between Mark and Eduardo as they continue to build their own social status€”Eduardo with the Phoenix Club, and Mark with Facebook€”and the sequence spawns the music-less scene during the depositions where Mark makes his most popular argument, €œDid I use any of your code?€. When Sean Parker enters the restaurant scene to meet Mark and Eduardo this grand club music plays him in. When Sean is there the party begins, telling story after story, buying drink after drink, the smiles, the laughter, and then finally picking up the check and renaming the website Facebook€”as if this is all one great big party, and everyone is here to sit back and have a good time. It never ends. The idea that this is all one great big party is again realized during the scene at the club between Sean and Mark, where they discuss the founder of Victoria€™s Secret is overloaded by loud music and although the characters have their voices raised, to the point where they are almost yelling at each other, it is still difficult to hear them. The music drowns them out€”just like the party is drowning them out, isolating them from each other€”severing friendships, which leads us to Eduardo. There is a point in the story, which begins once Eduardo drains the funds out of the accounts he set up, which completely alters the mood of the story. From this point on the story warps into a darker and even more personal account of these people€™s lives and relationships. The music is soft and languorous, allowing us to pay attention to what is going to happen next, as Sean and Mark get the five-hundred thousand dollars from Peter Thiel of €˜Wallace Langham€™, successfully edging Eduardo aside and allowing Sean to take a few steps further into the company. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOMUe26X3mo The importance of sound is frequent in the movie. Mark€™s voiceover narrates his stream-of-consciousness flow of writing on his blog, while the ominous tones change to faster upbeat music which continues to get faster as the chapter rages on, until the entrance of Eduardo where the music slows down drastically to prepare for his arrival, and the end of Mark€™s stream-of-conscious rant. The arrogance and pugnacious tone in Mark€™s voice is what helps to drive the picture and, despite how it may sometimes come off as rude, it is also amusing to hear him speak. The serene sound of the paddles slicing through the water, propelling the boat forward, and the sounds of nature create a very peaceful feeling. It is a clear representation of the Winklevoss twins at the beginning of the movie. The twins, as apparent in the sounds of their voices, are also calm and peaceful€”contrasting how they end up at the end of the film. The way the twins speak often in the film when they are not angry or upset with Mark is almost as if the words barely make lift off from their tongues. If one was not keen on their true emotions one might say they have a sort of ne€™er-do-well approach to life. Which also gives the sense that these two float by college with 3.9 GPA€™s, without wasting a single once of sweat. But this breezy existence soon fades away. Upon learning of the launch of Facebook, Divya rushes to the Winklevoss twins to inform them that their suspicions about something going on with Mark was right€”he stole their idea. The sound in the scene contrasts the very peaceful feeling that created in the first scene the twins are rowing in. This time they are practicing in a large room, with a pool built specifically for them to practice their rowing techniques. It is louder. The sounds created by the paddles crashing into the water and the waves they create are unsettling, which coincides with the shouting between their business partner Divya and the anger unleashed when one of the twins splashes the paddle in the water, upon learning that Mark stole their website. The idea of Facebook being a party is something that keeps being reused and expanded on in the film. The intern scene where the kid hackers are writing code and taking shots to get jobs as interns at Facebook is a prime example of this. During the scene dozens of students are yelling, clapping, whistling, and just creating the environment of a party through sound. Mark created his own final club, where he determines who is let in, and initiates them with the invitation of a handshake and loud music into the grand party that is Facebook. The 83rd Academy Awards - Show - Los Angeles On February 27th, 2011, when Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross walked up to receive their award for €˜Best Original Score€™ at The Academy Awards it was an obvious win€”so obvious that anyone with film sense could have predicted it upon watching the film and comparing it to the other nominees. But there was one point in the film that had help from other master musicians; The Beatles€™ Baby, You€™re a Rich Man which plays at the end of the film, encompasses it€™s themes of money and status, as Mark looks back to the beginning of the film by €˜friend requesting€™ his ex-girlfriend, who he humiliated with creating €˜Face Smash€™ and subsequently leading him towards creating the empire of Facebook, and all of the pompous self-righteousness and isolationism that comes with it. Sound is not just important€”sound is half of the experience. It is the way which stories are told, through the tiny sounds of the environment around a character to the loud music overbearing a subject through a happy or dramatic moment€”it is the way stories are told nowadays. To get the full experience of a movie, you don€™t just need to stare and watch closely, you need to open up your ears and listen.
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Alex Bell is involved in the independent film community in both New York City and Upstate New York. He went to Brooklyn College for Film Production. He lives near Saratoga Springs, NY.